US arms treaty passes latest hurdle in Russia

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Russia's State Duma lower house of parliament on Friday passed in a second and penultimate reading the ratification bill for a landmark nuclear disarmament pact with the United States, a Duma spokesman said.

A total of 349 deputies in the 450-strong Duma voted in favour of the ratification bill for the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), he told AFP.

Earlier in the day Russia's lawmakers approved non-binding amendments to the bill countering those made by the US Senate.

The Duma gave its initial backing to the new START on December 24 and the third and final reading of the bill is expected later this month. The bill will then have to be approved by the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council.

Prior to approving the treaty last month, US lawmakers attached non-binding amendments to the resolution to recommit Washington to deploying a missile defence system, to modernising its nuclear arsenal, and to seeking new talks with Russia on curbing tactical nuclear weapons.

© 2011 AFP

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